The spirit of Bill Walsh spent the week itching and wishing for a one more chance to light up a Super Bowl. He would have fun with this one.
Imagine the legendary 49ers coach preparing his team to face the Pittsburgh Steelers and their ferocious, relentless, high-speed defense.
Imagine the plays Walsh, a three-time Super Bowl winner, would design to neutralize all that speed and hellbent aggression, frustrating the Steelers and making them desperate.
If Walsh had a smart quarterback, quick and accurate, and a collection of complementary wideouts, he wouldn't worry about the pass rush. It would be too late.
Green Bay will be a 27-17 winner in Sunday's Super Bowl because Packers coach Mike McCarthy -- who learned the West Coast offense from Walsh disciple Paul Hackett -- and offensive coordinator Joe Philbin will concede Pittsburgh's considerable defensive strengths while exploiting its evident defensive weakness.
With quarterback Aaron Rodgers slinging darts and four effective wideouts -- Donald Driver, Greg Jennings, James Jones and Jordy Nelson -- the Packers will flood the field with three- and four-receiver sets, keeping Pittsburgh's dangerous linebackers off-balance, if not off the field entirely.
To put the Steelers in nickel defense is to watch them squirm. If you want to see them panic, start grabbing and clutching and flailing -- leading to countless illegal contact and pass interference penalties -- force them to use six defensive backs.
Rodgers simply has to avoid Troy Polamalu. He's listed as a safety, but his job is to hide the flaws and errors of his fellow DBs. He's good at it. He's terrific. But he can be marginalized by a good game plan.
As can Pittsburgh's front seven, which is designed to rush the passer with enough relish and trickery to obscure an ordinary group of cornerbacks.
McCarthy, Philbin and Rodgers have studied enough video to know where and how to attack. They've watched Browns rookie Colt McCoy, in his NFL debut, completing nearly 70 percent of his passes against the Steelers, for a season-high 281 yards. They've seen New England's Tom Brady routinely carve up the Steelers; he completed 30 of 43 for 350 yards and three touchdowns in a 39-26 win in Pittsburgh three months ago.
Most assuredly, McCarthy and Rodgers have studied the game in which Saints quarterback Drew Brees picked apart Pittsburgh's D, completing almost 80 percent of his passes, for 305 yards, in a 20-10 New Orleans win.
Asked by ESPN what advice he'd give Rodgers, Brees didn't hesitate.
"Patience,'' he said. "Because what the Pittsburgh defense thrives on is for you to get impatient and feel like you need to force a play."
The offense most reminiscent of New Orleans is that of Green Bay. Like the Saints, the Packers look to pass against any team. Like the Saints, the Packers have a platoon of receivers, any of whom is capable of making a key play.
As for Green Bay's run game, it's strictly a change of pace. With all due respect to new discovery James Starks, who will get his opportunities, running against the Steelers is like trying to swim a frozen lake.
It's much smarter to rely on a lot of shotgun formation to throw, throw and throw some more. That's the strategy Patriots coach Bill Belichick and Brady have employed to win six of their last seven against the Steelers.
Rodgers, like Brady and Brees, operates mostly with short and intermediate routes, with Driver and Jones massaging the sideline routes, as Jennings and Nelson work the seams. McCarthy will find ways to involve tight ends Donald Lee and Andrew Quarless.
When Packers receivers aren't beating coverage, they'll be drawing flags from the likes of Ike Taylor, Bryant McFadden, Ryan Clark, William Gay and either Anthony Madison or Keenan Lewis.
More flags will be thrown when Pittsburgh's pass rushers, James Harrison and LaMarr Woodley in particular, are frustrated in their attempts to drop the hammer on Rodgers.
That's how the Packers will move the ball on offense.
They'll also score on defense.
Green Bay's defense generated 32 turnovers in the regular season and has come up with nine more in the postseason. Led by cornerback/rover Charles Woodson and linebacker Clay Matthews, the Packers will come up with at least three in Super Bowl XLV.
Let's just say Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger will not be the MVP.
That distinction more likely goes to the other quarterback. To Rodgers, who grew up idolizing Joe Montana, consults with Steve Young and plays for a head coach devoted to the offensive theories espoused by Walsh.
Green Bay's win will remind us that the influence of the silver-haired genius lives on.
Contact Monte Poole at firstname.lastname@example.org.